By Lance Jenkinson
Trailing 3-1 to Moorabbin Panthers in the eighth inning of game two in the Baseball Victoria division 2 semi-finals on Saturday, the only solace Williamstown Wolves had was that it held a one-game lead in a best-of-three series, so sudden death was off the table.
With the game slipping out of reach at Greenwich Reserve, the Wolves arrested the slide and launched a stunning fightback that no one saw coming.
Like a bolt from the blue, the Wolves came back to win 4-3 on the back of late Jayde Thorne heroics and booked a spot in the grand final against Malvern Braves starting on Thursday night at Melbourne Ballpark.
“It feels incredible to make the grand final,” Wolves outfielder Daniel Chircop said.
“That game took a few years off my life. “It was a bit stressful there for a minute.”
Import Kevin Desmedt breathed life into the Williamstown Wolves charge with a solo home run in the eighth inning.
Later that inning, Wolves player-coach Aaron Green laid down a bunt to get a runner home and tie the game up.
Then it was over to Thorne to play the hero role in this story. Pitching in relief for Dennis Neal, who threw seven strong innings, Thorne did exactly what was asked of him on the mound, getting six outs and giving his offence a chance to win the game in the ninth.
As it panned out, Thorne was one of the three batters up in the bottom of the ninth, and put the icing on the cake of his late show with the game-winning chop from the batters box.
“He closed out the last two innings and was really dominant,” Chircop said.
“Then comes up in the bottom of the ninth with one out and hits a walk off solo home run. It was a massive moment.
“If that’s the greatest moment of his baseball career, I think he’d be OK with that.”
Williamstown spent much of the season in first place, only to give up the minor premiership and automatic promotion by slipping to second a week before finals.
The Wolves have a chance for redemption in the grand final against Malvern Braves, knowing a series win will not only crown them champions, but also earn a spot in the top-flight next summer.
“We’re really in good form at the moment,” Chircop said.
“We feel really confident that we can get the job done. We feel like the team to beat and our mantra is that if we play our best game … nobody in the league can beat us.”